'The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear,' from the film 'Elf'
By Gabrielle McIntyre
Like Buddy the Elf, a group of friends is helping spread Christmas cheer around North Tonawanda. As they build their display and great ready for their busy holiday season, like Santa busy at his workshop, they want to let everyone know carolers are coming to town.
The Christmas Caroling Trailer is a 25-foot trailer pulled by a small bus decorated with lights, Santa and Mrs. Clause, a tree, elves and other holiday icons. As they ride their "sleigh" through the streets, singing loud for all to hear, they will also be collecting donations. All items received are for the North Tonawanda Food Pantry to help those who may need a little extra Christmas cheer this upcoming holiday season.
The Christmas Caroling Trailer is operated solely by volunteers who work to build a new display every year and drive around North Tonawanda collecting nonperishables and personal hygiene products.
"My group of crazy friends came up with this idea, because we wanted to do something fun while giving back to our community and help the less fortunate," Martha Russell said. The group consists of 15 friends and their family. "We average 25 volunteers each night."
The only rule: You have to dress up and sing as loud as you can!
Last year, the group collected 1,473 items. The goal this year is 3,000.
"If you could see how unbelievably happy they (North Tonawanda Food Pantry) are when we show up, you'd realize how important this really is to them. That's why this year my goal is to bring in 3,000 items. I never thought giving could be so rewarding," Jake Brosius said.
The food pantry also reached out to Brosius especially in need of plastic bags, personal hygiene (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo), baby formula or food, and packets of canned soup instead of heavy cans.
The Christmas Caroling Trailer will be out singing and collecting items starting Nov. 28, when carolers will be at the North Tonawanda High School tree-lighting ceremony. After that, they will be out every Saturday from 6-9:30 p.m. in December (except for Christmas Eve). Carolers also will be out Friday, Dec. 23, to accommodate those who are volunteering, so they can be with their family and loved ones on the special holiday.
The carolers pose for a pictures with the North Tonawanda High School mascot (Lumberjack) during the tree-lighting ceremony last year. (Photo courtesy of XMAS Trailer's Facebook page)
As the trailer goes down the streets pulled by a small bus, onlookers cannot help but think of Santa's sleigh being pulled by his reindeer ... and don't forget Santa's helpers, too.
If you are not home at the time of caroling, you can leave donations on your front porch and the helpers will grab them for you to put into the "sleigh."
"Please remember we try our hardest to make as many streets as possible. We are a group of friends that are just trying to spread some cheer throughout the city. We can't possibly make every street," Russell said.
Anyone who will not be home or is not part of the route can drop donations off at a drop-off location at Booth Insurance Agency, located at 1045 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda (Mid-City Plaza).
Like busy elves helping Santa get ready for his night out delivering toys, every year the group of friends get busy to build a new display. This year, the Christmas Caroling Trailer's new scene has a working fire place and even a large light up sign that says "Merry Christmas"! Along with new features, onlookers will also see some of their favorite holiday characters, including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and Clarice, the Abominable Snowman and Yukon Cornelius, and the Grinch.
Volunteers dressed up as holiday characters in front of the trailer enjoy a fun night of caroling. (Photo by Martha Russell)
When asking some of the carolers what their favorite memory was while participating in the Christmas Caroling Trailer, nothing but heartwarming responses came from them.
"My favorite memory is seeing the kids' faces light up as we drive by; they truly believe in the spirit of Christmas and there is nothing more satisfying!" Russell said.
"My favorite memory, by far, is looking out at the houses and seeing the little kids staring back out of their windows yelling for mom or dad to come and look. Their faces light up. There is nothing better than that," Brosius said.
Watch the magic happen live! During caroling, viewers can watch live via Facebook Live from the group's Facebook page. If you happen to not be home during caroling, but still want to watch, this is a great way. Make sure to follow their Facebook page "XMAS Trailer," and you should receive a notification once they have gone live!
When asked about helping out other organization is the area in the near future, Brosius said, "The word is spreading quickly on our event, and it seems like everyone who knows about it is donating something. Maybe next year I can look into helping more organizations. I would like to keep in within North Tonawanda though."
What better way to give back to the community these friends have grown up in then to give back to the North Tonawanda Food Pantry? Whether it is caroling with the group and their families, or donating for the food pantry, the love for the community is strong with these friends - and they want everyone to join in. Help spread a little bit of Christmas cheer this holiday season and make sure to be looking out your windows to watch the Christmas magic as it comes down your street in the weeks to come.
For more information or to volunteer to help, contact Brosius at 716-628-0725 and/or Russell at 716-603-4062, or email [email protected].Also for updates follow their Facebook and Twitter.
A map of the caroling route with dates and times when carolers will be in your area. (Photo courtesy of XMAS Trailer's Facebook Page)